A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use
The attacks happened at least three times on different routes in the West Bank.
An earlier report, from November 5 2014, describes an attack:
The [Jewish] driver reports that an Arab motorist came up next to his car, and used a laser to try and blind him and cause him to lose control of the vehicle.
"He came up next to me and aimed the laser at my face for several long seconds," the driver told Arutz Sheva.
"He tried to divert my view from the road so that I would crash. By a miracle I managed to escape...it's clear that he tried to kill me," reported the driver.
From the Algemeiner (2015) and Arutz Sheva
Johnson went to a hospital and had an eye examination the next day. (No results were reported as of November 19.)
Because the bus has cameras, the video will be used to try to identify the perpetrator.
According to WABC, this is the first laser incident involving a New York City bus driver.
From a November 5 news account, it appears the injury occurred on Friday October 30 2015. The boy saw a general practitioner the following Monday, who then referred the teen to Ben Armitage, a Hobart (Tasmania) optometrist.
Armitage said the boy did not feel pain during the exposure, but he immediately lost visual acuity. “His vision is down to about 25 percent of what we call 20/20 vision and unfortunately at this stage it’s unlikely that vision is ever going to recover.”
Retina of one of the teen’s two eyes that were damaged by a self-inflicted laser pointer exposure. The injury occurred near the macula. At the center of the macula is the fovea, responsible for sharp central vision.
The damaged area is still swollen; Armitage hopes that some vision may be restored when the swelling recedes.
An Optometry Tasmania spokesperson warned parents not to allow children unsupervised access to laser pointers “and, in fact, better off trying to warn them off because we’ve just seen in this particular case where the future lifestyle of this young person has been seriously affected.”
From ABC (Australia) News
The 44-year-old driver stared into the laser several times, as he tried to identify the person holding the laser. He suffered blurred vision in his right eye immediately after the exposure, but waited 6 months before having his first complete eye exam.
The exam showed “spot-like retinal pigment epithelium disturbances temporal to the fovea of the right eye, with no abnormalities in his left eye.” The authors stated that “The subjective complaints and objective ophthalmological findings of this patient were consistent and strongly suggested that the repetitive exposure of the eye to the reflected laser spot 6 months previously had caused subtle but detectable injury to the macula.”
The authors concluded with two “Learning points”:
- “We suggest that no laser pointers of any class are made available to children, since they are unlikely to understand the risks of permanent retinal damage.”
- “For the safety of users and the general public, even low-energy handheld laser pointers should not be sold to children.”
The authors did not identify the location of the incident, but it may be Germany since three of the four authors’ institutions were in Germany. Additional analysis and commentary is below (click the “Read More…” link).
From Thanos S, Böhm MRR, Meyer zu Hörste M, et al. “Retinal damage induced by mirror-reflected light from a laser pointer” BMJ Case Reports. Retrieved online: 2015 Nov 05, doi:10.1136/bcr-2015- 210311.
Click to read more...
This map shows the ferries’ route. The map’s indicated positions of the ferries are from a later time and do NOT show their position during the laser incident.
At about 8:30 pm, the ferry M/V Tokitae (shown below) was approaching the Clinton (Wash.) Ferry Terminal. The captains were at wheelhouses on opposite ends of the 362-foot-long ferry. The one piloting the vessel was hit first, and suffered injuries.
According to Washington State Ferries Port Captain Jay Mooney, the man had “third-degree burns on his eyelid and his vision is still not quite back at 100 percent.” (A first-degree burn occurs only on the surface of the skin. A third-degree burn “extends to all layers of the skin,” according to the Wikipedia “Burn” article.)
The blue laser beam came from the slightly smaller ferry M/V Kitsap, which was traveling in the opposite direction.
A Kitsap deckhand had seen two men with the laser, and reported it to a Washington State Patrol trooper after arrival at the terminal in Mukilteo. One man told the officer that “it was a new toy and he was shining it at the water and didn’t mean to shine it at the vessel,” according to a WSP spokesperson. The trooper confiscated the laser pointer, shown here:
The spokesperson said “This is not a typical laser you’d see in a classroom or office setting.” She referenced the manufacturer’s packaging which says to use safety glasses, to not aim it at faces, and that it could light a match if held on target long enough.
A similar-looking laser sold by Lasers-Pointers.com is said to be 5000 mW (5 watts) and costs less than $200:
The two captains exposed to the laser light missed one day of work. The suspect who had the laser has not yet been charged, as of October 29 2015. Prosecutors are determining what charges would be appropriate.
UPDATED - November 9 2015: No arrests have yet been made and no charges have been filed, more than two weeks after a suspect was picked up. This is due in part to determining what jursidiction applied, since the laser incident took place on ferries in waters between different Washington state counties. Another difficulty was determining what charge to file. A KIRO radio story also noted the limitations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates lasers. While FDA attempts to block some high-powered lasers, imports can get through. And, “there aren't any penalties for buying or owning those illegally high-powered devices, nor are there requirements for training for non-medical, non-industrial devices.” From MyNorthwest.com
UPDATED - April 18 2015: 27-year-old Mark Raden was charged with assault in the third degree, for aiming at the ferry captains. In addition, he has a previous history of run-ins with law enforcement over laser misuse. Details are here.
An analysis of the laser’s power and capabilities is below (click on the “read more” link).
From KOMO News, Q13Fox, the Kitsap Sun and Wikipedia. Ferry drawings and route map from Washington State Department of Transportation website. Laser pointer info from Lasers-Pointers.com.
Italy: Prosecutor investigating manslaughter charges in three cases of eye damage to children from laser pointers
The cases were reported in mid-September 2015 by the St. Ursula Ophthalmology Hospital in Bologna. One of the children was 10; the other two were 13.
The injuries were caused by laser pointers bought by their parents (in two cases) or grandmother (in the third case) in markets in Florence or Bologna. One child had a slight loss of vision, another had significant loss in both eyes, and a third has almost lost his sight and is legally blind.
A public prosecutor, Valter Giovannini, has opened an investigation for aggravated manslaughter against unknown assailants. This seems to indicate that in all three cases, the laser pointer bought by or for the children was used against them by another person.
As a result of the report, Carabinieri NAS (Nuclei Antisofisticazioni e Sanità or “Anti Fraud Squad”), a special police force operating under the Italian ministry of health, seized fifteen illegally-sold laser pointers.
The hospital warned the public not to purchase green laser pointers sold “on the street, in the stalls and fairs.” A spokesperson said higher-powered pointers such as those aimed at players in stadiums were to be avoided. Professional laser pointers used in lectures should not be a problem.
From Corriere di Bologna. Thanks to Alberto Kellner Ongaro for bringing this to our attention.
The officers had been searching at about 11 p.m. for a person who threatened someone with a gun. While the police did not find the person, during the search a laser dot was repeatedly aimed onto one of the officers.
A witness described how the laser “starts at the lower part of his torso and works his way up, as if somebody is zoning or eyeing in their weapon at this officer, and that’s exactly what this officer that saw this laser was thinking. He thinks somebody is pointing a laser at a target location on an officer to engage him and shoot him.”
According to a news report, “[t]he officers took cover and followed the laser more than a block away.” Officers confronted Jeffrey Klopotic at his home; the 45-year-old fought with the officers. They found Klopotic had a laser pointer. He was arrested and charged with resisting an officer, obstructing police, intention of directing a laser pointer at an officer, and disorderly conduct.
Because guns are often equipped with laser sights, police are worried whenever a laser dot appears on or near them. TV station WBAY purchased a $25 laser pointer and tested it side-by-side along with a laser gun sight. A former police captain they consulted could not tell the difference between the pointer’s dot and the gun sight’s dot.
A Green Bay police spokesman said “When you hear that eight officers are shot in nine days, yeah, it’s certainly going to get the hair on the back of your neck to stand up a little more. People have got to be mindful of what they’re doing, and the decision to do such a thing. It could have ended tragically.”
From WBAY; photo from Arrests.org.
UPDATED April 2 2018 - Jeffrey Klopotic contacted LaserPointerSafety.com in late March 2018. He stated that three of the officers who used excessive force during his arrest have resigned (not necessarily due to his particular case), and a fourth officer was recently disciplined for tasing a man three times “as he did to me.”
A February 16 2018 story in the Green Bay Press Gazette describes three officers who resigned in 2017, one “following an excessive-force case” and two “to avoid discipline for having harassed fellow officers in 2016.” In the excessive force case, officers “wrongly interpreted a man’s slow response to commands as ‘actively resisting’ arrest, and found that what officers concluded was an attempt to reach for a gun was actually the man’s attempt to keep his pants from falling down.”
Klopotic stated that he pleaded no contest “under pressure”. He provided documentation showing he had to pay $686 in a fine or court cost. He also said he is waiting for a police department investigation to conclude before filing a lawsuit about his arrest.
According to the Covington News, the photographers told police that the laser light could possibly damage their camera sensors; they also “complained of headaches and said their eyes were starting to dilate.” Emergency medical responders told them “to take Tylenol for their headache.”
Because the local District Attorney’s office said that using a laser pointer was not a criminal offense (except when aimed at a law enforcement office or airplane), the photographers were told that it was a civil matter. No criminal charges were filed.
From the Covington News
A green beam was repeatedly aimed at both of Porthcawl’s lifeboats during the rescue of the crew and the catamaran. The helmsman “was able to recover his vision and resume the operation soon after,” according to a news account.
South Wales police were called to the scene by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Porthcawl, but did not find the perpetrator. They are asking the public for any information.
From Wales Online
A spokesperson said “"Luckily none of the firefighters have suffered any lasting effects from the lasers but this could have had serious consequences to the sight of those involved.”
From Express.co.uk and the Lancashire Telegraph
This photo shows a red light coming from the audience area, aimed towards the stage.
A motorist called 911 to report that a male in the front passenger seat of a silver Honda was shining the laser onto cars and trucks. The caller said the laser made it difficult to see, and almost caused a crash involving an 18-wheel truck and another vehicle. The Honda was traveling northbound on I-75 in Bradley County, east of Chattanooga.
Officers located the car, where Gary Dewayne Couey admitted aiming the laser at other vehicles. He was arrested on a charge of felony reckless endangerment. The driver of the car, 34-year-old Brandi Rapier, was charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment.
Gary Dewayne Couey
UEFA could impose a fine of €10,000 on the Macedonian club.
Laser light in goalkeeper Danny Don’s face
- BURLINGAME: Suspicious person. An elderly man with a cane was pointing a laser pointer at passing vehicles on Linden Avenue and Oak Grove Avenue before 2:50 a.m.
From the San Mateo Daily Journal, published July 6 2015
The July 6 story was about an air ambulance helicopter that was targeted by a laser on July 4. Police were searching for the perpetrator.
From the Simcoe Informer. This item was of interest to LaserPointerSafety.com since we have heard of only a couple of reports where laser light caused a potential driving accident. As of July 6 2015, we have not heard of an actual accident caused by persons aiming laser light at vehicle drivers.
Police executing a search warrant at an Eddyville home knocked on the door and identified themselves. John C. Smith came to the door, and aimed the gun and pointer at them. Police told him several times to drop the gun. He refused and was shot in the abdomen.
He lived but was taken to the intensive care unit at a Paducah hospital.
Police found crystal meth, several guns and a “large amount of cash” at the home.
In addition, the man left notes, money and candy for the girl, and used binoculars to look into their home.
To avoid having their child testify at a trial, the victim’s parents agreed to a plea bargain deal. Pico pleaded guilty to promotion of obscenity in a minor. He received a 30-day jail sentence, was registered as a sex offender, was forbidden to have any contact with persons 18 or younger, and was required to have mental health treatment.
From KKTV 11 News and The Gazette
Police found a smoking device on Roepke that later tested positive for cannabis. During a strip search of Roepcke at the jail, “a bag of a green leafy substance that smelled like marijuana fell out of his rectum.”
Roepke was charged with pointing a laser at a driver or pilot, possession or use of narcotic paraphernalia, possession of marijuana, and smuggling contraband into a prison.
From ClickOrlando.com and WFTV.com
From CBS Pittsburgh
Tests at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Ophthalmology clinic one week after exposure showed no lesion visible to the eye (slit lamp exam) or with fundus photographs. However, Amsler grid tests indicated a central field visual defect in the left eye. Using more sensitive optical coherence tomography (OCT), a 56-micron disruption area was seen:
Intravenous fluorescein angiography displayed a barely detectable foveal window defect:
The diagnosis was that the blind spot was likely to remain, unchanged, and that treatment would not be necessary or effective,
Check-ups after two months and six months showed no change. However, after two years the teen no longer complained about a blind spot, and Amsler grid results were normal — despite OCT still showing the disruption area.
In an article describing the case, the authors concluded: “Our case represents a somewhat unique instance, where a moderate-powered [Class] 3B green laser produced visually significant retinal injury without correlating fundus findings on physical examination. The injury was only detectable by OCT and questionably fluorescein angiography…. Our case demonstrates the unpredictability of retinal findings in laser exposure in this power range, and the importance of OCT when evaluating patients who present with symptoms following dangerous laser exposures… If powerful lasers continue to be marketed as benign lights and their access to adolescent hands remains just a few keystrokes away, more ocular injury of this nature can be expected.”
From Military Medicine, Volume 180, Issue 3, 1 March 2015, Pages e378–e380, https://doi.org/10.7205/MILMED-D-14-00420